I know I should serve a mission, but what about school and employment? Can’t I serve the Lord as well if I have a good job and a secure future?
You can always choose to live righteously and serve the Lord no matter what your circumstances in life. But the prophet who leads our church now, as well as prophets in the past, have asked that young men in particular prepare to serve missions. Young women can also serve and may consider a mission if they feel that it is a good option in their lives.
In many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and others, young people finish their basic education at about age 18. Young men usually have a year in which to work or go to college and prepare for a mission at 19.
However, in the British Isles, young men face a slightly different challenge. They usually complete their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) at age 16. They have nearly three years to pursue advanced education or work. Sometimes it is difficult to break away from school or from a secure job at that time.
We asked several people to give us some perspective on interrupting a career or schooling to serve a mission.
Stuart Deacon of the Sunderland England Stake is a promising track athlete. He said, “Two years away from track is a lot when you’re that age. I decided to go on my mission because I knew if I put God first he would help me when I came back.” In addition to the blessings he received having served a mission, Stuart said, “A spiritual career is a lot more important to get started than an educational one.”
Sally Everitt of the Hull England Stake just returned from a mission to Honduras. She, like young women in other countries, went on her mission when she turned 21. She had finished her training to become a nurse before she left and has since found that her mission experience has opened doors for her. “I would encourage any young man or young woman to go and to leave their education behind because they can always pick up again,” said Sally. “I think when you come back, since you’ve done what the Lord asked of you, he will bless you. I’ve seen it with people in my own stake.”
Missions can be enjoyable as well as a lot of work. Sally said, “Even though you do work hard, you have a lot of fun on your mission. You do grow. You do lose yourself in the service, and you love the people you serve.”
Derek Siswick of the Leeds England Stake is a counselor to the mission president in the Leeds England Mission. He said, “In my experience, I have never seen anyone really lose out who has decided to go first of all on a mission and then come back and go to college.”
Of course, some people do give up a great deal to serve a mission. They may never have those same opportunities again, but the overwhelming majority will say that their missions were more valuable to their lives than any other choices.
To make a decision about a mission, do the same things you would do for any major decision in your life. Talk it over with your parents, your church leaders, and most of all, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Don’t let your fears stop you. Talk with returned missionaries. Almost without exception, they will tell you that missions are great and that you’ll never regret your decision to serve.
The Lord would have asked us to finish our education first if that was what he thought would be best for us. Rely on what he says, and trust in his teachings.
Heather Willmott, 15 Enfield, England
By going on missionary splits, you can prepare yourself. Most people I know don’t mind at all taking the two years off. They come back and say they really enjoyed their missions. Their examples say a lot.
Simeon Cary, 18 East Harling, Norfolk, England
When Jesus came down to earth, he gave his life for missionary work, so it’s not really much of an effort for us to give two years. We’re trying to be like him when we do it.
Matthew Nugent, 16 Liverpool, England
If you give two years of your life to the Lord’s work, then he helps you and he blesses you. You get your blessings back.
Morgan Howells, 16 Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
Basically, serving a mission is one of the goals of my life. I talk to the missionaries here, and they tell me how special this country is, and important things are going to happen.
Nick Merry, 18 England Manchester Mission
My older brother wanted to go on a mission before he started school, so he looked around at all the different universities, and he got one that would accept him whenever he came home from his mission. He was putting his mission first.
Debra Boyd, 16 Belfast, Northern Ireland
We should go on a mission first, as if you don’t, you might never go. If you go on your mission first, you will be greatly blessed.
Colin Ross, 14 Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England